When we first read of April V.’s Whole30 results, we took special interest. Turns out April started her Whole30 while eight (8!) months pregnant – and had the most amazing experience. We knew we had to turn this into a feature, to encourage other pregnant moms (and their partners, boyfriends, and husbands!) to consider our healthy eating plan for their mental and physical health, and the baby’s health, too.
Of course, you should always check with your doctor before beginning any dietary or exercise plan, especially if you are pregnant and/or have existing health conditions. But for those of you wondering if the Whole30 is safe for pregnant women, here is what Dr. Michele Blackwell has to say:
“I have personally experienced the benefits of the Whole30 program, and I wholeheartedly recommend the Whole30 plan to my patients to optimize a woman’s health during pregnancy and lactation. The nutrient-dense foods recommended provide ample vitamins and minerals without the need for the standard prenatal supplement. Eating real food Whole9-style will also help regulate blood sugars, alleviating hypoglycemic spells common in pregnancy. In addition, the Whole30 will reduce the likelihood of gestational diabetes, excess pregnancy weight gain, and possibly macrosomia (large babies) and polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid).”
Michele Blackwell, M.D., F.A.C.O.G
Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology
In April’s Own Words
My nutrition journey began in earnest when I was about 22 years old and had a scare on my annual feminine check-up. I started looking for answers and a natural way to become healthier and more fit. A few years ago I found Whole9 and was completely impressed. I started dabbling around in Paleo and working towards giving up grains and legumes. I’d already cut out most sugar and pre-packaged foods.
I am a fitness professional and my clients began asking me about Paleo and if it was just a gimmick. It was at this point that I became hungry for more knowledge and thought if I was telling my clients it’s not a gimmick then I really should embrace it in earnest and feel the full benefits. This led to my embarking on my first Whole30. And I must say, WOW, I am sold!
Eating Good Food For Two
I now eat about 75% Paleo, but like any human being, I stray from the path and then have to reign it back in from time to time. In June of last year I became pregnant. I was miserable that first trimester with constant nausea and nothing seemed to help. I began to feel desperate.
I started to succumb to the SAD way of dealing with first trimester nausea by eating white potatoes, crackers, bread, etc. After all, this is what all of the books on pregnancy advocate. But that only made me feel worse!
Then it hit me: I felt bad no matter what, and lack of exercise and eating grains was NOT helping! (I had been so nauseated that at this point I was not able to do my normal exercise protocol.) This was not working, and not sustainable for me. So I threw out all of the crackers, white potatoes, bread, and junk food and started moving back towards Paleo.
I wasn’t a perfect eater, but it was an improvement. By about 12 weeks pregnant, the nausea was diminished and I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. In the weeks that followed, I felt better and better. I was having a few aversions (chicken) and a few cravings (bacon and ice cream – not together!) but nothing crazy.
However, after a sugar frenzy during the holidays, I said enough is enough, and committed to starting another Whole30 on December 26, 2012. This time my husband Thomas committed to doing it with me. (He realized that he was consuming 1/4 cup of white sugar daily in his coffee alone!)
Thomas felt improvement quickly. And despite being nearly eight months pregnant, living in the South, and with all the pregnancy excuses in the world to eat whatever I wanted, within days of starting the Whole30 I felt fantastic! My acid reflux and heartburn vanished; depression was replaced with energy, motivation and a sunny mood; sinus issues greatly diminished, weight gain slowed; and puffiness mostly evaporated.
We completed our Whole30 on January 24, 2013, and I feel and look fantastic for a pregnant woman at 36 weeks. Thomas reported immediate improvements as well. In less than two weeks, he reported feeling sharper, increased motivation at the office, and less general fatigue throughout the day. (For the record, I am 38 years old, fast approaching 39, and I constantly have people assume I am in my late 20s. Thomas is 42 and experiences the same.)
I wholeheartedly believe that embarking on a Whole30 at any stage of pregnancy can and will be a positive experience. During the Whole30 I still had the occasional sugar craving, but I was able to recognize it as simply that — not a need, just a craving. The Whole30 has restored the clarity of mind to ask myself, “Do I really want a donut or am I simply hungry and needing a nourishing meal?”
Being pregnant has been a bit of a mind trip for me, but doing the Whole30 provided me with a renewed since of self confidence, empowerment, and love for my changing body. I looked in the mirror yesterday on day 30 and saw a strong, fit woman, and a beautiful, healthy baby belly!